Home News Institutional INCAE and MasterCard join forces to empower women entrepreneurs in Central America

INCAE and MasterCard join forces to empower women entrepreneurs in Central America

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Foto LEADSINCAE and MasterCard announced last October 30th a strategic alliance to support the LEADS Women joint initiative. LEADS (which stands for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Advancement, Development and Sustainability) is a project aimed at empowering small and medium-sized enterprises led by women in Central America.

By combining their experience and scope, INCAE and MasterCard seek to foster economic growth and to attain progress toward the specific objectives of women's empowerment in order to provide women with the training and tools required to develop their business skills and creative thinking, and to solve business challenges.

Women are leading 57% of the micro-businesses in Central America, which accounts for a significant economic contribution to the cities where they operate. However, the real potential of these companies remains untapped. Barriers to growth include limited market information, little access to investment, and a lack of financial management skills.

"Through this strategic alliance we seek to develop the leadership skills of women entrepreneurs in the region. The combined experience of INCAE and MasterCard will contribute to activate academic resources and the technology of electronic payment to boost scalability and inclusive growth. This first project will result in an initial seedbed of successful companies boosting integral development in the region", said MasterCard Director for Central America Gabriel Balzaretti.

LEADS Women Program Stages

- Stage I - "Growth Strategies for Entrepreneurs." Forty women from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Panama will be selected among all applicants to receive highly specialized business training from expert faculty on digital platforms, entrepreneurship, finance, leadership, and growth strategies.

- Stage II- "Business Growth Strategic Projects Tutoring." At this stage ten participants will receive tutoring from INCAE faculty to improve business presentations, identify and meet business challenges, and attain a better vision of their project and its impact.

- Stage III- "Business Proposals Presentation and Awarding." A jury will choose five finalists who will present a project to a panel of INCAE faculty members, MasterCard executives and potential investors. Panel members will choose three winners, who will receive an economic prize. In addition, one of the ventures will be chosen to write a case study to be used as best practice.

"The 40 women selected for the first stage of the project must meet six requirements: living in a participating country, having started their company in the last three years, integrating innovation and/or online payments to their business firms, holding a university degree, having an annual turnover of more than $100,000 a year, and being committed to investing time and effort to advance their businesses. However, all entrepreneurs who have an innovative company are invited to register, even if they do not meet all the requirements," said INCAE Dean and Chair of the Center for Collaborative and Women's Leadership Camelia Ilie-Cardoza. Women interested in participating must go to the LEADS On-line Resource Platform at There they will be able to apply online no later than November 24th. In addition, they will have access to articles and case studies related to entrepreneurship and women's leadership to help them prepare to apply.


MasterCard (NYSE: MA), is a technology company in the global payment industry. It operates the world's fastest payment processing network connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and business firms in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard's products and solutions facilitates day-to-day business activities such as shopping, traveling, managing a business and managing finances, in addition to making them safer and more efficient for everyone. Follow MasterCard on Twitter @MastercardLAC and on LinkedIn, participate in discussions on its blog and register to receive the latest news through MasterCard's press room.

INCAE Business School

INCAE is the leading business school in Latin America, founded in 1964 and devoted to applied research, especially on competitiveness and sustainability, entrepreneurship, and development of women leaders. INCAE has actively promoted the comprehensive development of Latin American countries for over 50 years now. It ranks 25th worldwide in executive education and 1st in MBA programs in Latin America, according to the latest Financial Times rankings. INCAE is a pioneer school in Latin America with its own Center for Collaborative and Women's Leadership devoted to leadership and gender diversity issues.

Media Contact:

Roberto Vila, MasterCard Communication Manager for Mexico and Central America
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
Gabriela Lucke, Manager, Center for Collaborative and Women's Leadership - INCAE Business School
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Annual Report